Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
I thank the Russian Federation for organizing this meeting on peace and security in Africa.
Collaboration between the United Nations, the African Union, its Member States and Africa’s Regional Economic Communities and other regional mechanisms has never been greater.
Our partnership is underpinned by shared values, enshrined both in the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as well as by the principles of complementarity, respect and African ownership.
In 2016, the African Union Peace and Security Council identified 20 challenges to peace and security.
But what stands out today are not the challenges that the continent faces.
Rather, it is the determination of African Heads of State and Government to address them in a holistic manner.
In 2013, they pledged, and I quote, “not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and to undertake to end all wars in Africa by 2020”.
Last July in Niamey, the African Union Assembly adopted “Silencing the Guns: creating conductive conditions for Africa’s development” as the theme for 2020.
This speaks to an increasingly strong partnership among African Member States as the cornerstone for advancing peace and security underpinned by inclusive sustainable development on the continent.
The African Union and its Member States have achieved important milestones in their pursuit for higher effectiveness, self-reliance and cooperation.
The AU Peace Fund has so far secured $124 million, the highest level of assessed contributions since its establishment in 1993.
And the African Union Commission Mediation Support Unit and the FemWise Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation are now operational, boosting capacity to defuse crises and making such efforts more inclusive.
The United Nations and the African Union have also strengthened their partnership with the signing of two joint frameworks by the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union on peace and security and on sustainable development.
Partnership has also been evident at the country level, in peace processes and in the lives of people.
Close coordination between the Southern Africa Development Community, the African Union, the United Nations and other partners supported dialogue and reconciliation in Madagascar, and thereby contributed to the holding of peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in 2018.
In the Central African Republic, the African Union led a mediation process, with support from the United Nations and involving the Economic Commission of Central African States and neighbouring countries.
That process culminated in AU-led peace talks in Khartoum and resulted in the Political Agreement of 6 February.
The United Nations is now actively supporting its implementation, including through the Peacebuilding Fund, focusing on top priorities of the Government and partnering with civil society.
In Guinea-Bissau, the Group of Five, comprising the United Nations, ECOWAS, the African Union, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries and the European Union, continues to assist efforts to restore stability and sustain peace.
In Sudan, the signing of the Constitutional Declaration last month, following efforts led by Ethiopia and the African Union with support from the United Nations, has allowed for the establishment of a civilian-led transitional government.
Partnering with African civil society is also bearing fruit, and the progress achieved in nations such as Liberia and more recently in Guinea-Bissau and Sudan shows us the critical contributions made by women to peace and stability.
Beyond geography, the thematic areas of partnership are extensive and diverse.
Cooperation between the United Nations, the African Union and sub-regional organizations is also growing in the area of electoral processes.
Ahead of legislative or presidential elections in West Africa over the last couple of years, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel organized joint or coordinated visits with various African partners to Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal and other countries to promote peaceful and inclusive processes.
The United Nations is helping to implement the recommendations of a study conducted by ECOWAS and the Economic Commission for Africa to address challenges related to pastoralism and security in West Africa, with support from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
The UN and the AU cooperate closely to ensure that the voices of women and youth are integral to peace processes.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. It coincides with the 2020 goal on gender mainstreaming in peace and security of the African Peace and Security Architecture. An opportune moment for reinvigorating resolve.
Both the AU and the UN have youth strategies and envoys. They are invaluable not only as advocates but also as agents for change in our organizations.
In Central Africa, the United Nations Regional Office is working closely with the Economic Community of Central African States to develop and strengthen its capacities, including on conflict prevention, mediation, early warning, collaboration with civil society and gender mainstreaming.
And the alignment between the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel and the AU strategy in the region has enhanced collaboration in response to the multifaceted challenges of the region, including through the Ministerial Coordination Platform co-chaired by the AU and the United Nations.
Partnerships among sub-regional organizations are also intensifying.
The United Nations Regional Offices for Central Africa and West Africa are supporting the implementation of the memorandum of understanding signed between ECCAS and ECOWAS last year.
Notwithstanding the progress achieved, the international community needs to support African efforts more effectively.
The United Nations continues to work closely with the mediation teams of the African Union, the sub-regional organizations, Member States and civil society groups.
Institutional capacity needs to be further strengthened to be able to undertake preventive diplomacy.
Central to the United Nations’ support to peace and security on the African continent are our peace operations.
More than 80,000 peacekeepers currently serve in seven peacekeeping operations in Africa.
In fact, all of our largest missions, in terms of personnel and budget, are deployed on the African continent.
Contributions from African nations themselves have been indispensable to our peacekeeping operations - not only in Africa but also beyond.
Africa is now the largest troop contributing region to United Nations missions.
And there is direct cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations on peacekeeping operations themselves: In Somalia and Mali/the Sahel, the UN supports AU-led operations. In Darfur, UNAMID is a hybrid operation.
However, we can and must do better:
The Secretary-General has stressed the need to ensure the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council and under the Security Council’s authority.
Political will and resources are also required in peacebuilding and sustaining peace efforts, including through support to infrastructure for peace at the local and national levels and policy dialogue with the Peacebuilding Commission.
It is also important that the international community actively supports the AU Initiative on Silencing the Guns.
This Council has already signalled its strong backing in its resolution 2457.
The United Nations Secretariat as well as UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes are scaling up support to the objectives of the AU Initiative.
Building partnerships and harnessing their power requires long-term vision and commitment.
Collaboration between the AU Commission and the United Nations Secretariat will remain strong.
The Secretary-General looks forward to even greater partnership and collaboration, enabling the African Union to achieve its 2063 vision of equitable, people-centred transformation and lasting peace and security.